I personally feel that aside from childbirth itself, getting back to feeling like yourself is the hardest part of pregnancy.
Your hormones are crazy. Some days in the beginning you feel like you don’t know which direction is up. One hour you are overwhelmed with feeling so blessed with your new little bundle of joy, and the next, you’re in tears because you feel worthless. To add to all of the emotional turmoil you are going through, you look in the mirror and wonder why everyone constantly said, “you’re all baby!” Clearly, that baby is absent, yet your belly looks somewhat similar to as it did before you delivered.
There is no such thing as instant gratification, especially in the body transformation department. It is discouraging when you are trying, trying, trying and that evil scale doesn’t even budge. Trust me, I know. For months after I had my third, my weight did not change an ounce. I worked out nearly everyday throughout my entire pregnancy, I ate right, I gained 32 pounds. It should have just come off! At least, that ‘s what I thought. I started walking everyday once I got home from the hospital. I had an emergency c-section, so I didn’t do any abdominal exercises until 6 weeks, and those first weeks were agonizing! Abs can hurt, and not in a good way. I restricted my calorie intake to 1200 per day made up of lean protein, lots of vegetables, some fruit, and nuts. I did AT LEAST 30 minutes of cardio daily in addition to 45 minutes of abs, and whatever else I decided to throw in the mix and still-no movement on that scale. Although my body was slowly getting its shape back, my weight didn’t change at all. It turned out I had post-partum hypothyroidism. The restricted calorie diet and rigorous exercise was actually working against me. My doctors said it would balance itself out naturally, but it could take up to a year! It’s extremely frustrating when you are doing everything correctly, but chemically, you are being prohibited from your goals.
I always hated, and I mean HATED when anyone would say to me (while pregnant), “It took 9 months to make it. It will take 9 months to lose it.”
That is the worse advice ever! You’re pregnant, your self as you once knew it is transforming into something you never imagined possible, you’re happy, you’re nervous, you’re anxious, and you cannot wait to start your new life with your new little one. AND you can’t wait to be able to sleep on your stomach, among many other simple luxuries you lose while growing a human being inside of you! Then someone drops a huge “womp womp” and says the obvious.
For the people in Hollywood that have their body back in a month-you are a freak of nature. Yes, we envy you, but I’m pretty sure half of you didn’t really carry a baby. Those bumps look very realistic though;)
To the real women who struggle to get back to their own body, remember, it does take time. No one wants to hear it, but it’s true. And you have to do yourself the biggest favor and give yourself time. If you started your pregnancy with extra weight, it will obviously take extra time. But it is not impossible. You are strong. You are amazing. You grew a person inside of you and gave life to it! If you can do that, you can do anything!
So here is my advice:
Do NOT ignore your core! I don’t care if it’s covered with inches of excess weight-challenge it. I’ve said it before, I will say it again-take a class! Body pump is an amazing strength training class in which all of the exercises embrace your core. Pilates will give you core strength you never knew you had and it’s not as ho-hum as yoga, so it’s actually a lot of fun. Do either or both of these and you WILL see results. If you don’t have a gym that offers classes, pick up some dvd’s. Structure helps push you and teaches you things you didn’t know and routine creates results.
- Do abdominal exercises daily. Find the time. If it’s in the morning before everyone else is awake, or if it’s in the evening while you’re watching tv-if you want abs you have to work them daily.
- Eat as clean as possible. “Abs start in the kitchen,” as you so often you hear because it is true. Eliminate sugary drinks and sodas, bloating snacks, and processed foods and your midsection will lean out. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself with these foods once in awhile. However, changing the way you eat will change your body.
- Keep your mind set on your goal. There are plenty of unrealistic distractions surrounding us each day. Don’t look at other women and compare yourself. Remember, you’ve given life to another human being! Anything you do to improve yourself physically is icing on your cake called “life.” Your body may not change immediately, but in time it will! Trust me. It took 7 months for me to even fit in my normal jeans and I exercised constantly before and after my pregnancy.
- Put your scale away!!! Put it in a closet or even in your garbage can. This torture device needs to become irrelevant to your goals.
Set goals. Set a weekly goal, as well as a monthly goal. A weekly goal needs to be something you can attain with some drive. For example, going to the gym or exercising for at least 30 minutes 5x a week. For abs, set a goal to work those specific muscles each day. A monthly goal should be something you find somewhat challenging, even unattainable. It could be something involving pushing you to your physical limits, like making yourself run 2 miles. Or it could be something as simple wanting to lose an inch or two of your waist.
I am not a fitness instructor or a nutrition expert. Maybe I’m not qualified to say these things, but I am going by the knowledge I’ve attained through research, trial, and error. You can reach your goals and you can change your body. Babies may diffuse your abs, but with a little hard work and maybe some lifestyle changes, you can find your abs again. Check out my abs routine to see how I found mine. And yes, I set unrealistic goals on purpose often in my life because I always want to have the option to improve. I followed this routine about 3-4 times a week in addition to body pump twice a week and moderate cardio at least 2-3 times a week.